The Washington Times - November 21, 2011, 10:18PM

The deficit super committee may have come up empty-handed. but President Obama and a bipartisan audience appeared in good spirits for “an evening of down-home country music,” as Mr. Obama put it, Monday night in the White House’s East Room.

And if there were any hard feelings about first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden getting booed at a NASCAR race in Florida on Sunday, you wouldn’t know it by Mr. Obama’s remarks.

“Tonight we are transforming the East Room into a bona fide country music hall,” he said, thanking the attendees for giving him “the best welcome home party that I’ve had in a long time.”

Citing the nation’s diverse musical heritage, Mr. Obama said he grew to appreciate how much country music appeals to so many people in his diverse travels across the nation.

“At its most pure, that’s what country music is all about — life in America,” he said, according to a pool report. “…It can remind us, especially when lots of our friends and neighbors are going through tough times of what we’ve got to fight for and who we have to be. It reminds us that this is America. This is a place where you can make it, if you try. And there’s a pretty good Brooks & Dunn song about that. I recommend it.”

He also gave shout-outs to the country music legends slated to perform, including Lauren Alaina, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Mickey and James Taylor.

“We have Hootie in the house,” Obama added, noting the presence of Darius Rucker, the former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish.

Mr. Rucker, Mr. Lovett and Mr. Kristofferson led a workshop with students from D.C.-area schools earlier Monday with Mrs. Obama. The Band Perry, fresh from a performance at the American Music Awards Sunday night, sang its hit song “If I Die Young,” while Miss Kraus softly crooned “When You Say Nothing At All.” Other highlights included: Mickey’s performance of the Patsy Cline classic “Crazy,” Miss Alaina’s version of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and the finale in which all the singers chimed in for a rousing rendition of Mr. Kristofferson’s “Bobby McGee.”

Spotted in the audience: Mrs. Biden; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia Democrat; Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican; Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat; Rep. Jim Cooper, Tennessee Democrat; Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.